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Frustrated At Work?

How do you react when you are frustrated at work?

Do you react emotionally, complain to others, and get angry, or do you find a way to make the best out of the situation?

Remember Your Goals

First, remember one of the basic elements to accelerating your career is to set goals. See our article on Setting Good Goals.

Remembering your goals when you have difficult days or difficult situations will help you frame how you handle the situation. Maybe you want more money, or more work life balance, or maybe you want to find a better job. In any case, your goals should give you clarity on how you move forward.

Problem Solving 101

We have seen many people simply express frustration over the difficulty of a situation or just complain adding new problems to the mix. Think about how you can help solve the problem.

In most situations, problems offer you an opportunity to find a solution and help those around you as well. You are getting invaluable practice when you solve problems, so take the opportunity when problems arise to be a force for good change.

💡 Pro Tip: Ask yourself the following questions in writing to help frame the problem and possible solutions:


Additional Details

What is the underlying issue or problem?

Focus on the problem, not the symptoms the problem creates.

What are the possible solutions I can help implement?

No solution is bad at this point, you are generating ideas.

What are the limiting variables that make the solutions viable?

Think about time, cost, complexity, organizational support, etc. to implement the possible solutions.

Summarize the variables such as benefits, risks, and costs.

You can frame these items in relation to your goals, the company goals, or some other metric.

Based on the probability of success vs. the variable analysis vs. the pros / cons what is the best solution in your opinion?

Ask others you trust to test your solutions and assumptions.

You may have other ways of framing problems and solutions but try to use the same process each time so it becomes innate.

Google how to solve problems for a plethora of other suggestions on problem solving or check out Harvard Business Review’s How to Solve Problems.

Demonstrating Grace and Gratitude

The next thing to remember is that you should not let one small moment in time or a small period in the course of your life define what people will say about you for the rest of your professional career.

Those who are able to act with poise and grace during stressful events will be remembered.

Don’t Panic

Office work should not be a matter of life and death. If your situation is a matter of personal health contact the authorities and get the help you deserve.

For those 99.99% less serious situations take a breath or go for a walk and focus on finding solutions.

Who Do You Want To Be?

When people think about you what do you want them to remember?

Do you want them to remember a person who lost their temper, complained a lot,

or quietly quit to get back at the company?

Or do you want to be remembered as someone who took a bad situation in stride and found the best possible solution?

It Could Be Worse

Most of us are lucky enough to live in the western world where we enjoy freedom. We do not work in a gulag or toil away in fields with a shovel all day.

Just remember there are those who are far less fortunate than us; so keep that perspective in mind.

Reflect On The Good

During times of difficulty reflect on the good part of your life. Write down what you are thankful for.

💡 Pro Tip: Once a week find a few minutes of quite time and write down what you are grateful for having in your life. Your relationships, your family, your career, or anything else. See NPR’s Tips for how to be grateful.

This is not only helpful in general, but will help you ground yourself to the positives while you are dealing with the negatives.

No One Said It Would Be Easy

You already know this, but no one said making your career successful was going to be easy.

Struggle and hard work usually pay off, but there are no free lunches.

Don’t Complain

This is simple, but very important.


Leaders do not want to hear more problems. Leaders want solutions to problems.

Even better if you can come to the table by defining the problem, defining possible solutions, and having joy at the opportunity to solve a problem.

Final Thoughts

If you are able to successfully exit a difficult situation or negative event those who see how you handle the situation will inevitably be proud, amazed, or even jealous.

People will notice how you conducted yourself.

Not every situation where you are frustrated will have great solutions. Sometimes you might have to pick the best least bad option.

By remembering your goals, finding good solutions to the problem, keeping perspective on your situation, and having a positive attitude you will set the stage for accelerating your career.

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